Faculty Scholarship

Faculty members in the School of Humanities and Sciences are not only committed teachers but also productive researchers and artists. They receive grants and awards recognizing their research and creativity, and publish articles and books in scholarly publications that support ongoing research. Selected accomplishments from this year include the following:

  • Susan Swensen, associate professor of biology, and her research team made the cover of Science, the world’s leading journal of original scientific research, news, and commentary, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Swensen’s research team examined the extraordinary diversity in a group of tropical herbivorous fruit flies in their paper, “Hidden Neotropical Diversity: Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts.” After analyzing the DNA of 2,857 flies from 24 species of plants in the neotropics, the team’s scientists discovered 52 species of flies, many of them indistinguishable in form. The research highlights that much of the fly biodiversity was hidden in the genes; this means that tropical diversity could actually be underestimated in such species.
  • In The Widows’ Might, published by New York University Press in 2009, Vivian Conger, associate professor of history, explores how widows were portrayed in early American culture and how widows themselves created identities in response to their unique roles. By analyzing widows’ wills as well as prescriptive literature, court appearances, newspaper advertisements, and letters, Conger deftly shows how widows in colonial Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Maryland navigated their domestic, legal, economic, and community roles in early American society. Historian William B. Scott writes that the book is “a thoroughly researched and carefully argued study [and] forces us to rethink the complex ways that colonial society functioned and changed. A must for historians of colonial America and American women.”
  • In April this year, Stephen Sweet, associate professor of sociology, traveled to the Netherlands as a co-organizer (along with Professor Judi Casey of Boston College) of a conference panel entitled “Gender Equality and Work-Family Policy: Global Perspectives.” The conference brought together international scholars and policy makers to discuss work-family policy through an international lens. Sweet’s work on this panel was supported in part by a $135,000 grant he received in 2007 to be a teaching resource specialist for the Alfred P. Sloan Work and Family Research Network. Under the auspices of the grant, Sweet has researched and published curricular materials, led a work family teaching task force to develop new strategies for teaching connections between jobs and family lives, and developed workshops to analyze work-family policies. Sweet published the results of his research in articles in Teaching Sociology and the Women’s Studies Quarterly, and he authored a teaching guide for the American Sociological Association. In addition, Sweet coedits Work and Family Encyclopedia.
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